Thanks to http://www.digits.com for their badass righteous free counters
DJC: Intermission, thankfully, after more vanilla mic work from Dongy McDongerson. At one point I was pining for the gravitas of Titania's "Let's hear it for six-man juniors!". Then a beer-drinking contest broke out, and HEY! there you go.
CL: I was next in line (to buy water, because I'm too lazy for a fake ID),
DJC: Chris Lening: Wo-man.
CL: and then the beer contest dude realized he needed beer for the beer contest. And so they spent like, five damned minutes trying to get five bottles of beer. I have no idea how. The water was chilled and tasty, though.
NOSAWA vs. Hardkore Kidd
DJC: Kidd to me is just time-filler; he doesn't ever offend my sensibilities or anything
CL: He only bothers me when he's cutting these neverending promos about how amazingly great he is. He blew most of his verbal wad on the TV show on Friday, so we were more or less spared.
DJC: which is probably why they put him on after Perro Ruso, since at that point you could have molded a statue of Ricky Steamboat out of doodoo and it would have put on the best performance in the ring since the B-Boy match - but he never really stands out as anything that I should pay attention to. He's fairly solid in terms of "doing stuff", but he never really adds anything in particular to a match. I guess I should see him in an actual hardcore match before I pass final judgement on him, but hey, all I gots to go on is what I see.
CL: I shall pass. I saw him bleed at the hands of New Jack last month and that was all I really needed. I say Meh.
DJC: Here, I saw a whole lot of nothing; with New Jack no-showing, it looked like they filled up the time that would have been used for stapling things to foreheads with Nosawa doing Mutoh comedy, since they both pretty much got old equally fast.
CL: Certainly not as bothersome as cutting people open with stuff, but not necessarily that much better.
DJC: The first time Nosawa did the Mutoh pose, I was HOWLING; the third time I was forcing a chuckle. Naturally, I lost interest because they weren't doing anything in particular between the Mutoh spots - there is only so much pointless punching one man can take, especially when that one man is me. I think Nosawa would benefit a LOT if they'd put him in a match where he wasn't the best worker; I remember being entertained by one of his CMLL Semicompleto title defenses that made it to Galavision (and to a lesser extent by his recent CMLL vs. Japon stuff),
CL: I saw the little bit they showed of his match with Felino where he dropped the belt, and it wasn't anything worth noting. I mean, the Mexico/Japon stuff is easier because he can face Shocker et al, and plus he's got Masada right next to him, and so Nosawa looks better than the sucky guy, at any rate.
DJC: so maybe if he worked with Piloto Suicida next show he'd be able to have a better match and get over with the fans on the basis of something other than comedy or getting stuff stapled to his forehead. Yeah, I didn't particularly care for this match either. DOES IT SHOW??!?!?!!?
CL: A wee little bit. I'm surprised you abstained from Paul T. or El Jefe comments.
DJC: I didn't abstain by choice. I have roughly as much to say about the entirity of Paul T. and El Jefe's careers as I do regarding the effects of the Medici family on the Pittsburgh Steelers' running game.
CL: I honestly am too confused by El Jefe's role (he's the manager of the Kidd, except he doesn't talk or do anything except look like an aged biker) to say anything myself.
DJC: Well, get ready, 'cause this is about to get heavy.
CL: * Cracks Knuckles *
Super Dragon/Samoa Joe vs. American Dragon/Spanky
DJC: Super Dragon fucked up a springboard. American Dragon didn't sell his beating as much as I'd have liked sometimes. Spanky was barely in the match. Team Chismo was undermined a little by Joe being so powerful.
CL: And I will consider the last two as but part of my view of the match. James seems to see this a bit differently than I did, so I might as well lay it out up here. You see, it all kinda stems from the result of the last show, where American beat Super. So Super Dragon brings in his giant friend Joe, who is a murdering machine of death. Am Drag then relies on longtime associate Spanky, forming the powerful conglomerate known to many as "Double Meat". But therein lies the breakdown of the match. AD is superior to SD, as shown last month. Joe took about five seconds before he showed himself superior to AD. Spanky never tagged in against Joe (unless there was some part at the end I blacked out on, but that's another story); the reason was basically due to the fact that SD was able to control him, seen via the ending. Spanky could at least hang with SD, but the general mood was that Joe would have murdered him and his pink tights. Just killed him dead. So Am Drag took all of it, in a sense trying to weather the storm that was Samoa Fucking Joe, to keep the match from getting away. In a sense, this is just an extension of the AD/SD match from last month, except with the added dimension of the partner. The goal was still to win, it's just that SD's best move was to let his partner bring the violence, and AD's was to keep his partner away. In this sense, the victors were a bit clear, I suppose. And there ain't nothing wrong with logic. No sir.
DJC: Those were the big flaws in the match, and I'm'a tell you right now: I could give a flying FUCK about any of them. This match was thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisclose to being the best match I've ever seen live that it's not even funny,
CL: Having not seen the match he says is the best he's ever seen live, and having stated how I basically like this match more, I can pretty safely say this is the best match I've ever seen live.
DJC: and the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is one of those matches that sits you (well, me anyway) down and makes you put some serious thought into what you love about wrestling. And it's hardly just the participants. Ignore for a second that there are all of five indy workers today who can throw me into a slobbering pandemonium whenever they wrestle each other, and four of them were in this match (the other being Excalibur).
CL: Same five for me, by the way.
DJC: This match was a window into the future of what I'm going to love about wrestling for the rest of my life, and if that isn't the kind of thing that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, then we have very different standards.
Any discussion of this match has to start by talking about Samoa Joe's star turn. It took him all of five seconds in the ring to convince everyone in the audience - not the least of whom wrote this thing you're reading now - that they were in the presence of the second coming of Vader. Like Leon White before him, Samoa Joe wrestled like a motherfucking MONSTER, obliterating both of his opponents and no-selling a whole truckload of stuff- but in the end, he got both of them over, simply because he was able to modulate his intensity.
CL: He was scary. He was just full of hate and violence and death on young American Dragon. I can't even watch Brock Lesnar anymore without thinking, "Fuck, he ain't Joe."
DJC: It should be noted that this was written about two months ago and thus this comparison no longer applies. The difference between Brock and Joe is the difference between being a New Badass and being I Will Fuck You Up For You. It's subtle but it makes a BIG difference, and I'd imagine Chris would chime in and echo were I not doing this on the night of the update.
CL: Even beyond that, once the first chops hit-the loudest strikes I've ever heard, and he was in the ring with American Fucking Dragon-the whole crowd cringed as a whole. He didn't have to do anything else to convince us he was an unstoppable beast, but he just kept on killing.
DJC: When he first tagged in and started the trend of beating poor American Dragon within a milimeter of his life, it was almost like he wasn't taking the match seriously, but towards the end, as AD started actually getting flashes of offense, Joe looked...not scared per se, but definitely more concerned with the match.
CL: Here my earlier theory about weathering the storm was paying off. I was getting rewarded by the match. I liked wrestling a whole damned lot.
DJC: You started to pick up on Joe doing a few fighting spirit spots, with the big one being AD's run-off-the-ropes train of lariats, and while it was still indelibly obvious that he was, in fact, not going to lose, it seemed like AD's chances were picking up.
CL: AD gave his team the best possible chance they had to win, but you just couldn't stop Joe.
DJC: Of course, that wasn't just Joe. I cannot overstate how good American Dragon is these days; he's looking very much like the next guy everyone will be comparing to the Dynamite Kid in a year or two, which is about as high a compliment as I can come up with for an American junior. And here, he had a bit of a dilemma; I don't think ANYONE could have predicted that Joe would have gotten as CRAZY MOTHERFUCKING OVER as he did with the crowd (who would chant "We Want Joe" at him when he was tagged out), so he had to play up to that without sacrificing his own heat for being a really great wrestler who's new in town. Naturally, being the Ockham's Razor of Wrestling that he is, he opted for the simplest way out - get over on the basis of his strikes. A good punch in the mouth, you see, is the universal language; if he'd tried to suplex Joe out of his shoes or something like that, a thousand things could have gone wrong, but just punching the bigger guy right in the middle of his face - man, people who are smart enough to go that route are few and far between.
CL: And herein lied the fun. Joe and AD were having quite the fun exchange of beating the shit out of each other, with Joe acting as Omnipotus, Destroyer of Worlds, and AD using up all that lay inside him to respond as best he could. And then Joe tagged in SD, and…he was not Joe. The people were still recoiling from the shock of Joe's legalized assault, and then, well, Super Dragon went to toss some strikes at American Dragon, and they weren't nearly as huge. Whether they meant to do it or not, it just reinforced the SD < AD < Joe logic that ran all throughout. The only problem was that there wasn't a ton SD could do to reassert himself, particularly on AD.
DJC: Well, he could have broken out all the signature spots and gone all high-spotty, but he voluntarily took a backseat and let Joe-mania happen. CLASS, I say.
CL: Spanky would come in, and SD would pound on him for a while, but the people were chanting for Joe. I've got to believe that not everyone came to the show all that familiar with Joe, but everybody came out of it wanting to see more.
DJC: What's really interesting is that you'd think that a strike-heavy offense would be counterintuitive to AD's whole steeze, what with his finisher being the Dragon Special (to the best of my knowledge, the Cattle Mutilation is a different move. PLAY MORE FIRE PRO.)
CL: I will call it whatever the hell I want, Mr. UFO. Cattle Mutilation!
DJC: and, especially compared to last month's Dragon/Dragon match, he didn't really do much to set up the arm.
CL: I suppose it was silly to try and work towards the pin on Joe, as it just wasn't gonna happen. All he could do against Joe was not lose the match; winning was probably only gonna happen if they could isolate SD. By the time SD came in, though, most of the time Am Drag just looked like he needed to tag out really bad, so that end was kinda cut off, too. I suppose I was just so thoroughly convinced that the day was for Chismo & Associate that I wasn't paying attention to AD working for the win.
DJC: And therein lies the beauty of this match: they pared it down the absolute minimum of what it could be. This whole match is stripped to the floorboards so that the story becomes "AD and SD hate each other, and Joe will beat the shit out of anyone who gets in his way". That's it as far as storytelling goes - no substantiative attempts to weave in a body-part story, just a match built around hate and strength. In 2002, in the age of wrestlers trying to tell stories that make Tolstoy take a step back, to call this match a breath of fresh air is something of an understatement. A more apt description would include the words "Holy", "Fucking", "Shit", "That", "Fucking", "Ruled" all sequentially.
CL: "What will it take to put him away" is infinitely inferior to "Jesus Christ, he's killing him!"
DJC: What a lot of wrestlers who go for the really highbrow stories forget is that it shuts out a lot of the fans - one need look no further than RevPro, which was telling possibly the deepest in-match stories ever told in an American indy ring and drawing less than 25 people to the show. Here, they kept it simple, and the crowd just dove in head-first.
CL: They never strayed, either. There never was a time where Spanky would have seemed a serious threat to Joe. There was so much power in what they were telling out there that the place was electric.
DJC: The heat was off the fucking charts, ESPECIALLY any time Joe was in there. The thing about Joe is that there just aren't many wrestlers like him around today; Red may be the flashiest wrestler on the planet, but at some point the difference between him and Quiet Storm becomes nil. Joe, on the other hand, differs WILDLY from a lot of his peers in that his overseas experience has taught him the value of emphasizing every move, rather than having a 300+ moveset. Thus, unlike when I watch a Hit Squad match, I don't get the feeling that he's just toying with his opponent and pulling out a lot of big moves just for fun - I get the feeling that he's actually beating the fuck out of them because he can, and he's Samoa Goddamn Joe, and that's all there is to it.
CL: And basically, for the 200 or 300 people watching this match live, he doesn't have to ever do anything again to reinforce this point. I hope this comes out as well on tape, but seriously, all he has to do in his next match in EPIC is stare menacingly at his opponent, and those of us who saw this match will know his opponent is in for a world of pain.
DJC: And when you match him up against American Dragon who, even on a day when he goes back on offense with maybe a little too much fahr in th' belly, is still one of the best sellers in North America today, well, you have GOLD, my friend.
CL: The look on AD's face during the initial beating was basically one of "For the love of God, I'm going to be killed," and later on he seemed trying to be trying his damndest to survive the assault.
DJC: Live, it was amazing to see. I'm hesitant to call it the best match I've ever seen live if only because the tag from last year's 4/13 RevPro show could not have possibly been constructed with me more at the forefront, but without hesitation, I will say that this was the best-*wrestled* match I've ever seen; with the exception of Super Dragon's blown springboard somethingorother, everything looked right on time. Execution, especially live, is WILDLY important; given that you want to suspend disbelief at the fact that this stuff has all been planned out ahead of time, it can REALLY further the illusion when everyone's nailing every move to within three decimal places. Combine that with the story being told and I could not be more on board with this match. Fuck, when you've got Spanky - SPANKY - in HOT PINK TIGHTS coming in looking like a legitimate House of Fire, your match is pretty much firing on every cylinder yet invented.
CL: And I think it's here where I confess to being ill-equipped to fairly discuss this match. You see, I was in a shitty mood that Sunday. I'm not quite sure why. Maybe I was tired of driving so much, maybe I was depressed I had four days left of being a teenager, probably you don't care, so I'll move on. Anyway, I wasn't too keen on his card, except for this match. I staked my entire day on these 20 or 25 minutes; the rest of it was inconsequential or downright crappy. When it started to become what it was, I found myself channeling all that negative stuff into the violent death of the American Dragon. As the match wore on, I was so focused on it that I realized I seemed to have gone numb in my entire Peripheral Nervous System. I tried to work out of this by just tensing up; in retrospect, this was stupid, as relaxing prolly woulda worked a whole lot better. Anyhow, it just became too much; I was going to blackout. I excused myself with a few minutes left to stand against the wall. I'm a little hazy on the ending, although I do know that the Supernatural Driver on Spanky was well in-line with all that had been built up. I won't like this match as much on tape, because I could not have enjoyed it more. You can't ever repeat that same experience. But I need to see it and review it when the tape comes out, to see if I was just like, high on wrestling or something.
DJC: He wasn't. This match actually ruled this much.
CL: The only experiences I can compare it to are the few times when I just lost myself at a concert, although I suppose there's probably some drug that'll make you really aware of everything, including the fact that your body is all tingly.
DJC: *telling glance*
CL: The lesson here, then, is not to channel depression into vicarious violence. I apologize for the rambly indulgence. Returning to the match at hand…
DJC: But I gotta say it - if I could look into the future, I'm betting that I'd find myself liking the singles matches resulting from this tag a WHOLE lot more. This match to me felt more like they were trying to establish a credible division rather than actually advance a feud, kinda like early '80s NJPW junior stuff (which, I'd imagine, is why Spanky and SD cribbed the short piledriver spot from the TM/DK matches - and GOD BLESS THEM FOR DOING SO). I mean, lookit - they set up the pecking order, showed how it could be circumvented, and then pretty much brought it all home. Granted, they did it flawlessly, but in all honesty it leaves me hungrier for the matches it's hinting at than it made me go crazy over the match itself (and given how freaking ON this match I am, that's something right there).
CL: Basically, you had SD and AD last month, and the end of that match suggested that AD was better, but not so far beyond that SD wouldn't have his day at some point. Then you have AD/Joe, which would be nothing if not full of the hugest strikes you'll find in an American Legion Hall. You have SD/Spanky, which needed a rematch ever since they had five minutes of the start of a great match in January, followed by an unfortunate injury. You have Joe/Spanky, in theory, although I cringe in advance for the man in pink. You also have SD/Joe, as most of the buildup centered around Joe not liking SD, but hating AD so much he decided to hang with Team Chismo. And I hear that Am Drag and Spanky work well together…
DJC: It's little touches like that that are going to get me in trouble when I start shooting off at the mouth about Epic being the best indy fed in America right now, but I can't help it. I've seen too many other feds right now - including plenty here in SoCal - give the fans a big ol' money shot every single show, but then only build to the next one by sending someone out to cut a promo after the match is over. Epic, on the other hand, puts four guys out there, lets them tear the fucking ROOF off the joint, and in the process teases you with such staggeringly good wrestling that you can't really help but get interested in seeing where they CAN go from here. And while I'm hoping and praying that next show has SD vs. Spanky (given that the finish to the match was identical to the one from January where SD hurt his leg - I can't say "God bless wrestling" enough) and AD vs. Joe (which will lord over all it surveys, but seriously, there's no way Joe could look more like a monster than he did tonight),
CL: Part of it has to stem from catching everyone off guard. Joe was obviously going to be the biggest guy there, but he just came out to kill. He can't surprise everyone anymore, because we're all expecting him to be Vader now.
DJC: what this particular match really got me thinking about was AD/SD II.
If what I've seen in their first two matches here in SoCal is any indication, then the US indy world may never get another feud as good as this one. The thing about them isn't that their styles match up like AD and Low-Ki; it's how they approach wrestling itself that matches up SO flawlessly. You look at American Dragon and you see someone who can strip a match down to its bare-ass elements, but isn't afraid to go high-concept, and then you look at Super Dragon and you see someone who loves intellectual wrestling, but will aim a little lower for a better match, and fuck, how can you NOT freak the hell out? These days it tends to be all or nothing, ESPECIALLY on the indy circuit - which is why most shows range from decent formula matches to super-high-concept spotfests. AD and SD possess the tools and the love of wrestling to find the best possible manifestation of the middle ground. I know; I've seen them do it twice - and here they weren't even playing it up that much, what with Joe Smash Good going on all around them. All I can say is that both times that I've seen it, it's gotten me more excited about pro wrestling than pretty much any other indy match I've ever seen.
THAT, then, is the kind of shit that I want to see, and that's why I love this match despite its shortcomings. I can easily overlook something like an overabundance of fighting-spirit spots that pop the crowd but won't turn up too well on tape if I get something THIS great in return - long-term planning, anticipation for the next show, and a little insight as to why I shell out all this goddamn money and stand in the sun in the first place.
CL: I paid $21, drove way the hell out of my way to get there, and stood in the heat of the Valley in Summer for this. My money was well spent.
AND ALL THE OTHER STUFF I COULDN'T FIT IN THAT GIANT THING UP THERE:
CL: I need so much 2002 Zero-One it pains me. He's a heartthrob in pink tights and he is Spanky. SO MUCH Z1…
CL: Cattle Mutilation Forever. Live free or die.
DJC: He pretty much came down with one foot on the back of AD's head full force and I freaked the MOTHER FUCK OUT.
CL: It's one of those things that sticks in your head in slow motion.
CL: Yep. I'll have a review in the Digest when the tape is released. But still, see this damned match. More than anything. See it.
Sabu vs. Christopher Daniels
DJC: Poor Sabu - he's got the misfortune of going on the run of his life in the worst possible place on the best possible cards. I mean fuck, he wrestled almost as flawlessly as I've ever seen him (the Scorpio match excepted, of course), and all that got from me was a few weak pops and generally noticing that he was in the building. I doubt it really mattered, of course; the only storytelling really being done here was building to the individual spots and Daniels reversing a bunch of Sabu's moves to prove that he was younger/faster/whatever.
Then again, this is Sabu in 2002; what more can you really ask? He wasn't ever a great worker unless he was sitting on Scorpio's shoulders, so there you go. All I can say is that as long as he keeps wrestling like this, I have no problem watching him in the ring, even if the match immediately before it flogs the shit out of me as has been the trend.
CL: Sabu plays the guy who wrestles as I come down from getting way too much into wrestling.
DJC: Sabu: The Oxycontin of wrestlers. On many levels.
CL: This was fine. No Cameltoe girl, though, or at least she wasn't in a position for me to gawk at her.
Fans Bring the Weapons: Messiah vs. Nick Mondo
DJC: I was all set to give this match the same treatment as the one before it - after all, it's a friggin' FANS BRING THE WEAPONS DEATHMATCH, the king of Get-The-Fans-Over Wrestling - but then they HAAAAAAAD to go and put on one of the best deathmatches I've ever seen.
Granted, I'm no Elias Sports Bureau of deathmatches or anything, but I'm not totally ignorant of the genre; it's hard to watch a bunch of comps without eventually running across some of them. And OF WHAT I'VE SEEN, this not only stacks up against a bunch of the ones widely considered to be the best of the genre, but it actually beats the hell out of them.
CL: It should be noted that before this match began, the both of us were fully convinced it would be a Cavalcade of walking around hitting each other with stuff.
DJC: It all really boils down to how Mondo and Messiah tapped into the life force of deathmatch wrestling - how fucking sick the bumps are. I have seen a thousand million billion deathmatches where they do some perfunctory brawling into the crowd to start and then three minutes later start beating each other with stuff wrapped in barbed wire. Not here - they actually started with a collar-and-elbow sequence, and didn't let up on a fairly nice wrestling sequence for quite a surprising little while. From there they went into low-level garbage wrestling - shots with barbed wire-wrapped stuff, chairshots, stuff of that nature - while setting up a few of the more suicidal stuntman bumps (the light-tube table, etc). And then they kicked the sick bumps into high gear and there you go.
That's fucking brilliant. That's deathmatch wrestling reined in to the point where it doesn't resemble a snuff film. That's giving structure and tension to something where it's the easiest track in the world to just shrug and give the fans exactly what they want the moment they start. I have seen deathmatches with Cactus Jack, Terry Funk, Shoji Nakamaki, Atsushi Onita, all the usual suspects - very few (if any) of them even attempted to do anything this good.
Ergo, the only two matches you really can compare this one to are, by process of elimination, the Holy Grail of deathmatches - the Honma/Yamakawa matches. This match wasn't as good as either of those; the wrestling sequence here was used mainly to fan the flames for violence in the audience, whereas the Honma/Yamakawa matches were essentially Perfectly Good Wrestling Matches drenched in ultraviolence paraphernalia. Thus, although Honma/Yamakawa might not have had the sicker bumps (although fuck, if that isn't arguable, I don't know what is), it held up better as a match and didn't devolve into a masturbatory nine-minute finishing sequence. But that's just a fundamental difference between puroresu and American wrestling, I guess. It's commonly known that in puroresu, an amateur background is HIGHLY common; I remember Doron saying something like "Man, I bet even Mr. Pogo could tear it up on the mat if he wanted to" or somesuch. American wrestling, on the other hand, is more built around the spots themselves; it would, therefore, make sense that their deathmatch wrestling - where the Big Spot is King - would get all crazy with the finishing sequences and all.
That's why it didn't really bother me when they essentially had a nine-minute sequence where they kicked out of EVERYTHING. After a certain point, you come to expect it. It's unfortunate, of course; they'd done SO MUCH to instill drama into the match up to that point that watching them throw it out the window was almost depressing. But looking back over the match, there was SO MUCH GOOD that it's hard for me to really take them to task for what has become the drunken uncle of the American deathmatch philosophy.
The big fallacy driving the match, of course, was that This Match Hurts a Lot to do these hardcore bumps (astutely pointed out by Daniel - no, really, when he said it I barely noticed it), so they teased the shit out of everything. EVERYTHING.
CL: The bulk of this, from what I saw, was Messiah essentially playing the role of "Guy who doesn't want to get hit with painful stuff." And Mondo was doing it for the fans, so naturally there was conflict. It was pretty basic, but it was done well, and it was fun.
DJC: They were teasing big moves during the pure wrestling sequences; they were teasing the complicated bumps during the low-core parts; hell, they were even teasing their legit wrestling finishers during the finishing sequence. By keeping a hand on the throttle of the pace of the match, they were able to essentially reuse the same trick - countering out of a big move - over and over and over, but since the bumps were more terrifying, it felt more important.
Then, of course, there's their consciousness of the match as a whole. The brawl-through-the-crowd stuff was for the most part kept to a minimum (although as I'm writing this, I still have a bruise the size of a fried egg on my inner thigh from when someone got Irish Whipped into the railing by me), but IMSMR they didn't start doing it until they'd used a bunch of light tubes and the ring was filled with glass. Hell, like I said they used a TON of time during the middle portion of the match to construct the Monoliths of Chairs and Tubes and Tacks and Such that they'd eventually get thrown through to start the last part, which is a fine change from building and immediately putting through; it cuts down on the clutch-and-walk parts of the match ENORMOUSLY and keeps the match going at a reasonable pace.
I have no idea how all of these factors came together, but I have a guess - if this match is any indication, Mondo and Messiah might be hitting a stride as two of the greatest American deathmatch workers of all time (qualified since I have yet to see IWA-MS).
CL: I am in even less of a position to assert such a thing. I like tiny Mexican guys who do flippy-floppy shit. I'm in no position to judge.
DJC: More than anyone else I've ever seen - including Mick Foley, one of my favorite wrestlers of all time - they were conscious of the bumps themselves as being PART of the match, rather than the match itself, and they used that knowledge to play around with the meaning of the match. Thus, you get Nick Mondo running in the early stages to grab a light tube or some other prop, trying to simultaneously please the fans and deliver a Beating all up on Messiah, or WASTING Messiah with something like seven props in a thirty-second span towards the end. The only other thing I really could have asked was for more of the face-punching that they used in their brawl through the crowd last month, but that's a small price to pay. He wasn't just proving his hardcore-ous-ness; he was proving HIMSELF to fans from across the country. It's a subtle difference, but an important one - the former is amorphous bullshit, but the second is character. Guess which one I like.
But as great as Nick Mondo looked in the match, it was Messiah who knocked me the fuck out. I've seen him live a bunch of times now, and without fail, I walked away fairly unimpressed, mentioning (in order) his charismatic in-ring "intensity", his inability to work long, deep sequences, and his amazing resemblance to Wes Borland. In this match, however, I can'r really bring up any of those things. I can see now how people call him a great worker - he's not, of course, but he very well may be a great deathmatch worker. All that the latter requires in sabermetrical terms of wrestling ability is a demonstrable knowledge of where you want the match to go, an ability to take it there, and a significant degree of athleticism. That's nothing; I've seen the Godfather build a match towards the Ho Train, for christ's sake. And if you take the deathmatch elements away from a great deathmatch worker, more often than not, that's about as deep a match as you're likely to get.
Here, however, he was in his element, and it just fucking clicked. Here he had the Light Tubes of Damocles hanging over the match the whole time, distracting the audience from his shortcomings and *keeping*the*match*moving*. I won't say that I didn't notice the sequence where he went up top and eventually went down through the table as being contrived - I just didn't *care*. I could say the same thing about a million other spots in the match (don't get me wrong, there wasn't a shortage of contrived spots in this match), but ultimately, I'd rather think about how they exceeded the gimmick rather than played right into its hands.
So good on you, Nick Mondo and Messiah; you did a hundred thousand million billion trillion times better than I ever could have expected. Hell, they did more than that; I'm not going to say that I'm going to run out and buy tapes of deathmatch wrestling shows or go to XPW or such, but my holier-than-thou attitude towards garbage wrestling is, right now, in SERIOUS remission, and I'll watch the next one at Epic with a renewed interest. It's just too bad, of course, that after next show I'll take it all back, since we're unlikely to see another deathmatch of this quality for quite some time.
CL: And even then, the thing about deathmatches is that they're only as sick as you want them to be. If you came to EPIC, thumbtack lined doodad in hand, this is the damned match for you. They could have had every Fans Bring the Weapons match ever, and they'd like it just fine, but they went above and beyond that, so that's so much spurting red gravy. The bumps are all very nice, and some were incredibly sick, but eventually, some people reach their limit. It's fun to see it build up to where it was going, but ultimately, I don't care about the place it ended up. They bled, they injured themselves and each other, good for them. Ain't my thing. It was ten times better than I expected, but ultimately, the end sequence didn't engage me. I suppose it's silly to watch a guy take incredibly dangerous bumps and just respond with a big old "eh", but fuck it: eh. There was one other guy around our area who seemed to be watching with the same mood of curiosity-but-not-fascination, so I'm not a total desensitized freak.
DJC: Eh - it is and it isn't. I'm SO not a blood/guts/stab freak that it's not even funny, but I got totally into this. It's gonzo wrestling, pure and simple, but just because it's less structured than, say, the tag match or arguably even the Sabu match doesn't make it any less worthy. If you discount the trashy aesthetic, then you discount pretty much all modern art from Pulp Fiction on.
DJC: Like I said after the show to anyone/everyone in sight, I really don't want to play the Greatest Show I've Ever Been To card after every Epic show, but fuck, how can you say no to this show? Two matches which made me reexamine wrestling, one of which was REALLY close to being the best match I've ever seen live, the other of which was one of the best of its kind I have born witness to as of yet; a really decent match sandwiched in between 'em; three REALLY fun matches to open the show, and too many impressive performances to count.
CL: I say no. First show was more consistent (i.e., no Perro Russo), and sometimes, you're just in a better mood for watching wrestling. EPIC 1 was better for me. On tape, EPIC 2 will probably come out better, but I suppose time shall tell.
DJC: More than that, this show was the first to have the overall feel of a very slick wrestling federation - and I say that in spite of the music fuckups and the ring announcer dong and the armory and all that. This show demonstrated a remarkable level of quality, and what's more did so in a way that made it feel like the rule, rather than the exception. I've seen a bunch of indies where the crowd seems to accept that there's going to be some shit on the card; fuck, even with My Beloved RevPro, there was always a Matt Sinister match or some other P.O.S. on the card.
CL: The RevPro show three days after this card featured Buddy George breaking the ring.
DJC: Here, when there was something shitty on the card, the fans actually seemed surprised - they didn't pay for their ticket expecting to see something like the Perro Ruso abortion, and they reacted with angry silence (until his tights got pulled up to his medulla oblongata).
I can't think of another fed in America where the fans walk in with expectations that high. Even with ROH or CZW, you go in expecting Hardcore Towel Boy or the CSC or such- in other words, you go in expecting shit from a match, and you get it. Epic, on the other hand, promises a lot of matches that even if they don't sound great (the TTVT match), aren't going to be disgusting or anything. And when they deliver on their big matches and surprises, well, god DAMN, does that ever make for a great show.
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